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GREEK EDUCATION                         35

opinions based on mere sense-knowledge. In this way they make
it impossible for the learner to remain satisfied with his first
impressions of things, and prepare him for the advance from
imagination to reason. In the second place, they take him part
of the road towards the good which is the goal of all learning and
all life. The end of education is to see all things as part of an
ideal system, and though the sciences fall short of that and only
treat of fragments of reality, they prepare for it, since the material
with which they work takes the form of ideas.

The supreme study in the Platonic scheme—the one that puts
the cope-stone on all the rest—is dialectic. What is dialectic ?
Literally, it is discourse or discussion, especially the reasoned
discourse of thinking men. But when Plato makes dialectic the
final study of a perfect education, he means more than giving the
future rulers of his State a training in the arts of debate, such as
was imparted by the sophists : he has in mind such dialectic as
that of Socrates. But he reads more into the idea of dialectic
than Socrates or the sophists had done. Recognizing that what
a seeker after truth, like Socrates, aimed at was not victory in
debate or the elucidation of some particular truth, but the dis-
covery of the all-comprehending truth which he called the good,
that is the presupposition of any search for truth whatever, he
called this science of the good (which is just the science of the
whole truth) dialectic. This is the science or idea which the
perfect ruler must possess, the science that enables him to see
everything at its proper value because it enables him to see life
whole.

So far we have been considering the evolution of the soul
through education as it concerns the individual person* But
for Plato the social implications of the matter are even more
important than the individual Education, as he views it, is
essentially a process of interaction between the individual and
society, in which all the characters of humanity that are embodied
in the collective virtue and wisdom condition and direct the
individual evolution. The State, in fact, is the soul of man
" writ large," and it is only in BO far as the child enters into its
spirit through taking part in civic life and studying the literature,
science, and philosophy which are its highest expressions, that
he can grow into the fullness of the proper life of man. But the
influence of education is not confined to the individuals who are